Is the China Airlines Boeing 777-300 business class really as good as everybody says?

China Airlines regularly receives very positive ratings for their 777-300 business class product. During a business trip from Frankfurt to Taipei I had the chance to fly with the Taiwanese flag carrier. Here’s my detailed trip report about that flight.

Booking China Airlines from Frankfurt to Taipei

Booking arrangements were done by my corporate travel service centre, including a 1st class Rail&Fly connection to Frankfurt airport.

After receiving my booking details, I could log in at China Airlines’ website to select my seat and check-in online. Using the website was easy and everything worked fine.

China Airlines check-in at Frankfurt Airport

As a fellow member of the Sky Team Alliance China Airlines operates its flights in terminal 2. Consequently I had to decide how to get to this rather remote terminal after arriving at the long-distance railway station.

Generally there are two options to get from terminal 1 to terminal 2 at Frankfurt Airport: Take the Skytrain or go by bus. The Skytrain station is located quite a distance from the long-distance railway station. In order to get there you have to change between levels which means a) waiting for elevators or b) carrying your suitcase up and down the stairs. The shuttle-bus in turn is located conveniently outside of the terminal but has a longer journey time than the Skytrain. Although the 7 minutes bus ride can be rather annoying, I still think it’s quicker than taking the Skytrain. That’s why I usually end up in the bus to terminal 2.

The shuttle bus arrives curb side at the departure level of Terminal 2. From there it only takes a few steps to reach the check-in counters.

China Airlines Business Class review trip report Frankfurt Taipei

Two hours before the scheduled departure time, several counters at the China Airlines were open. As you could expect, there were different lines for business and economy class check-in. I had to wait for approximately 2 minutes before I could check-in my hold luggage.

The check-in staff was friendly and efficient. Another 2 minutes later I had my luggage tagged and my boarding pass and lounge invitation in hand.

China Airlines Lounge at Frankfurt Airport

China Airlines doesn’t operate its own lounge at Frankfurt Airport. Instead business class passengers get an invitation to a contract lounge called “Sky Lounge” in Terminal 2.

China Airlines Business Class review trip report Frankfurt Taipei

The lounge offers the usual amenities, such as WIFI and reading material. Being that it was still early in the morning, I appreciated the daylight streaming in through the windows. Unfortunately the windows were facing away from the flight operation areas and all I could see was some kind of parking space.

Regardless, the food was good. There was a buffet with different breakfast choices such as croissants, accompanied by different choices and coffee products.

During my stay the lounge was well-visited, mostly by trans-Atlantic Delta business class passengers. Overall the lounge was a decent place to spend the time until boarding but nothing special. Thus the lack of pictures.

Boarding flight CI 62 from Frankfurt to Taipei

One hour before the scheduled departure time flight CI 62 was called for boarding. I left the lounge and made my way to gate E5 which was quite a walk given that the gate is located at the other end of the terminal.

Unlike Terminal 1, Frankfurt Airport has implemented a decentralized security concept in Terminal 2. As a result, you have to pass security directly before entering the gate which may cause a certain delay before boarding. I guess that was also the reason for the untypical early boarding call.

Procedures at Frankfurt Airport Terminal 2:
> check-in
> go to boarding pass control
> clear immigration
> spend time at the lounge/ gate area
> pass security
> wait at the gate (which is very small, no shops or restaurants!)
> board your plane

In the end I was still too early at the gate. Even after walking through (almost) the whole terminal and passing security, I still had another 20 minutes left before boarding actually started.

China Airlines Business Class review trip report Frankfurt Taipei

Boarding was uneventful and worked out as planned, with business class passengers and elite members being allowed to board first.

Upon entering the plane I was greeted by a senior male purser and a female crew member. Both were smiling and expressed a warm welcome. The positive first impression was even topped when I saw the business class cabin which really looks great!

China Airlines cabin and business Class seat

China Airlines Business Class review trip report Frankfurt Taipei

In 2015 China Airlines received its first Boeing 777-300ER to modernize its long-haul fleet for flights to Europe and the United states. Together with the introduction of the new aircrafts, the airline took the chance to also completely re-brand their premium product. The new “premium business class” includes improved top-notch seats as well as a modernized flagship lounge at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

The Boeing 777-300 offers a total of 358 seats, thereof 40 in premium business, 62 in premium economy and 256 in economy class. Business class comes in 1-2-1 reverse herringbone seat layout, which offers great privacy and aisle access for every seat.

What really distinguishes China Airlines from other carriers that use the same seat, is the appearance of cabin. The trim of the bulkhead walls, tray tables and shelves come with a faux-wood design which really gives the cabin a special and sophisticated atmosphere.

I had chosen seat 12k on my flight from Frankfurt to Taipei and enjoyed all the benefits of a window seat with simultaneous aisle access.

During taxi, I caught a nice glimpse of the plane in the mirrored windows at Frankfurt Airport. It’s always a pleasure!

My impression of the seat: I really liked the seat configuration and appreciated the feeling of privacy that came with it. The seat was also very comfortable, especially in lie-flat mode. The location of the headrest might have been a bit too low in recline mode though.

China Airlines Amenity Kit

Of course China Airlines also offered an amenity kit, which contained the usual stuff:

I must admit though, that I rarely use any of the products offered in amenity kits. The only things I need during a long-haul flight are a tooth brush, earplugs and socks/ slippers.

Welcome on board China Airlines

While making myself comfortable, I was offered pre-departure drink. Orange juice or water – no alcoholic drinks due to the still relatively early hour.

MENU CHOICES China Airlines

Together with the welcome drink the flight attendants also distributed the menus.

China Airlines Business Class review trip report Frankfurt Taipei

Similar to our Air China business class experience several weeks ago, the cabin crew took my choices for food and drinks prior to departure. Likewise, the menus were collected immediately afterwards. Personally, I would’ve preferred to keep the menu to have a quick glance before the meal service starts.

China Airlines Business Class review trip report Frankfurt Taipei

The food selection was ok but nothing spectacular. However the list of beverages was really way above-average, containing Pol Roger Champagne, Jonny Walker Blue Label and some decent wines.

China Airlines Business Class review trip report Frankfurt Taipei

China Airlines business class food

I opted for Pol Roger Champagne as Aperitif while having a glass of Sauvignon Blanc with the red snapper.

Aperitif:

China Airlines Business Class review trip report Frankfurt Taipei

The starter consisted of Scallop and smoked duck:

China Airlines Business Class review trip report Frankfurt Taipei

As everything so far had been as good as expected, the main dish was slightly disappointing. The Fish was overcooked and the presentation wasn’t very appealing:

China Airlines Business Class review trip report Frankfurt Taipei

The cheese plate for dessert was good and the accompanying 10 year old Tawny port was superb!

China Airlines Business Class review trip report Frankfurt Taipei

Later during the flight I went to the self-service bar located between the two business class cabins. There was a nice selection of Taiwanese snacks. I was pro-actively offered a wonton soup which was brought to my seat a short time later. It tasted delicious.

Service

The service on board my China Airlines flight from Frankfurt to Taipei was constantly on a good level. The flight attendants were friendly and attentive and addressed me by name during the whole flight.

But I guess that’s also what you could expect from a top-notch airline and anything else would’ve been a disappointment.

China Airlines inflight entertainment

In-Flight entertainment offers the usual selection of movies, tv-series and music channels. Although I found the selection somewhat limited. Noise cancelling headphones can be found in one of the storage compartments,

WIFI on board China Airlines Boeing 777

China airlines offer Wi-Fi on board for reasonable rates. To do some work on the flight, I went for a 24h pass for 22.95 USD which came with decent speed and uncapped data volume.

Arriving at Taiwan Taoyuan International airport

After 13 hours in the air I arrived on time at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. The plane parked at a jetway position from where it took me about 5 minutes to walk to immigration. Although it was only 6 o’clock in the morning, there was already a queue in front of the immigration desks. I had to wait about 15 minutes until it was my turn to step forward and get my passport stamped.

Baggage claim was quick and easy. My priority-tagged suitcase was one of the first to arrive at the belt and just a few minutes later I was sitting in the taxi to city centre.

China Airlines Business Class review trip report Frankfurt Taipei

Transportation to and from Taoyuan Airport: Instead of taking a taxi, you could also use the airport bus or take the newly built Airport Metro. It’s not faster than a taxi, but it’s modern and comfortable. In general you have to plan 30-45 minutes to get from the city centre to the airport – no matter which transportation you choose.

impressions from Taipei

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall:

China Airlines Business Class review trip report Frankfurt Taipei

Double-deck expressway with its express lanes on the upper levels and local lanes on the ground level really is an amazing construction!

View from my hotel room at the Sherwood Taipei:

Taipei 101 Tower at night:

After just a few days I was leaving Taipei again, once again flying China Airlines back to Frankfurt. The return flight was similar to the flight from Frankfurt to Taipei and left me with a very good overall impression of China Airlines!

China Airlines business class lounge Taoyuan Airport

Finally, I’d also like to mention the re-designed lounge at Taoyuan Airport where I spent several hours prior to my departure on Friday night.

Business class pass passengers are allowed to enter China Airlines Dynasty Lounge in Terminal 1. The lounge comes with a contemporary design and a nice lighting concept. Unfortunately it doesn’t have any windows, which is always a negative point for me. I just love to watch the airplanes at different airports and it’s always a disappointment when I can’t.

China Airlines Business Class review trip report Frankfurt Taipei

Apart from the missing windows, the lounge was really good. It offered all kinds of food and drinks, including hot and cold Asian dishes as well as Western food (Spaghetti). I had an Asian noodle soup which tasted very good.

China Airlines Business Class review trip report Frankfurt Taipei

There are different areas to eat or relax with a sufficient number of comfortable chairs. Free and fast wifi is available everywhere.

China Airlines Business Class review trip report Frankfurt Taipei

All the facilities were clean and not very crowded. I decided to have a shower before take-off and could proceed without waiting time. The staff was friendly and attentive and had good English language skills.

China Airlines Business Class review trip report Frankfurt Taipei

Conclusion

While the lounge at Frankfurt Airport and the food on board were only mediocre, anything else was top-notch. I especially liked the seat and cabin configuration. The lounge at Taoyuan International Airport was good to, except for the missing windows.

To sum it up, I had a great time with China Airlines was very good and I’m looking forward to flying with this airline again in the future! It was definitely one of my best business class experiences ever.

4 thoughts on “Is the China Airlines Boeing 777-300 business class really as good as everybody says?

    • Mr Grumbert says:

      Thanks a lot for your comment Lars. I’m sure you’d enjoy a business class flight with China Airlines – even though you’ve just experienced Lufthansa first class on your way to Asia 😉

  1. Guest says:

    But you can’t transit airside in Taiwan, right? So they could only be competitive as far as direct flights are concerned?

    • Mr Grumbert says:

      I haven’t done a transfer in Taipei yet, but it should be possible to do so. Of course you’d have to pass security again before continuing your flight. The main issue I see why a transfer via Taipei isn’t a real option to most destinations in Asia is the extremely long flight route along the Chinese border in the North. Mr Grumbert

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *